The Office of Special Investigations, a unit of North Carolina’s Department of Public Safety, stated it may not reveal details of what transpired in the deaths of five prison staff.
The Department of Public Safety oversees and manages state prisons in North Carolina. It is headed by Secretary Erik Hooks.
In April, prison guard Sgt. Meggan Callahan was beaten to death at the Bertie Correctional Institution. And in October, four prison employees were killed when prisoners attempted to escape at the Pasquotank Correctional Institution. Hooks said his office may not release details of both incidents for the sake of public safety.
Prison Deaths Info to Be Released When and If…
He added the decision to release details into what transpired lies with him as the head of the state prison agency. According to him, the amount and timing of information he releases to the public – how and why the prison workers were killed, lies with him:
“At the appropriate time – if it’s appropriate – to make a public disclosure about some of the details of what happened, then that may occur.”
Hooks is basing his discretion on releasing details of the incidents on security and inmates’ privacy laws. He revealed that five inmates have been fingered as being behind the April and October killing and evidence must be presented for their trials.
Callahan was a prison guard and two of the four other slain prison workers were correctional officers, while the remaining two were a vocational instructor and a maintenance worker.
Lawmaker Says Public Has Right to Know
Republican Rep. Bob Steinburg, a lawmaker representing Elizabeth City where Pasquotank Correctional Institution is situated does not agree with Hooks.
“This is the largest tragedy, biggest tragedy. They need to be accountable. And just saying that this is going to threaten security is, to me, weak. If it’s not going to be brought forward publicly then chances are pretty good that we are not going to ever know what happened and we’re not going to be adequately able to help prevent something like this from happening again.”
According to the lawmaker, not releasing information regarding the prison killings could mean that such information may not be available to the public for many years to come.